[B-Greek] A Greek Pedagogical Question

Terry and Gail Cook cookie99 at fuse.net
Tue Jul 19 08:21:11 EDT 2005

"After looking at the site for several hours..."
Wow! Kent, how did you do it? I poked around for about 15 minutes and 
thought I'd seen everything on the site.
Terry Cook

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Kent Clarke" <kentdclarke at hotmail.com>
To: <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Tuesday, July 19, 2005 12:32 AM
Subject: [B-Greek] A Greek Pedagogical Question

> Friends and Colleagues of B-Greek:
> I was recently asked by a fellow Greek professor to look at an internet 
> site
> that seeks to help Greek students learn the language through a more
> inductive (reader oriented) approach. I have formally taught Greek for 
> five
> years now (but began my own study of the language almost 15 years ago) and
> admittedly use a more deductive (traditional) approach. With lots of
> encouragement and some individual hands on instruction for students having
> difficulty, we seem to have had very good success (putting through close 
> to
> 70 first year Greek students each year, the surprising majority being
> non-Greek/biblical studies majors; and close to 20 second year students, 
> the
> majority being Greek/biblical studies majors).
> After looking at the site for several hours (which can be viewed at
> http://www3.telus.net/norbertre/index.html ) I sent the following response
> to my colleague. I would be very interested in any feedback from the 
> B-Greek
> list (and especially from Greek professors more "seasoned" than I, but 
> also
> from those students of Greek who may have learned the language more
> inductively) regarding the whole pedagogical approach between deductive 
> and
> indicative language approaches. I attach the following:
> The site seems to be well done. I think Norbert's efforts are rewarding,
> especially when applied to a traditional approach to teaching and learning
> Greek (that is, how you and I teach Greek haha).
> However, I'm not sold on his idea (or his more inductive approach) as an
> exclusive approach to learning Greek. I think it is good that students 
> begin
> learning to read Greek text right away, but in order for them to read text
> well (which I hope they do by the time they get through with you and I) it
> would literally take years and a very large number of stories to complete
> what we attempt to teach more deductively in two years.
> There has been much talk about an inductive approach to learning Greek (or 
> a
> more reader oriented approach) over the last decade or so, but I know of 
> few
> that have really produced a Greek aptitude in students who have used these
> approaches (perhaps Athanaze's Classical Greek grammar being at least one
> exception with its more deductive-inductive combination). In some ways, I
> think the inductive approach attempts to be a "soft sell" for anxiety 
> ridden
> students. Learning Greek deductively (i.e. through paradigms, grammars, 
> and
> syntax) is hard work, but its tried, tested, and true. The inductive
> approach (i.e. learning through immediate language usage and contextual
> recognition via tools like stories or texts laden with singular 
> syntactical
> features etc), while initially more rewarding, really fails to help all 
> but
> the most motivated student progress beyond the most elemental parts of the
> Greek language. Not to mention the fact that more inductive approaches may
> tend to turn Classical or Koine Greek into a modern spoken language when 
> its
> not.
> If you think how long one has to be completely immersed into a second
> language culture to be an adequate user of that language (I have been told
> on numerous occasions, for example, that if one wants to learn a second or
> third modern language fluently, it would take him/her two full years
> immersed in that specific language culture. This is the ultimate inductive
> approach; which is virtually impossible to do with ancient Greek. 
> Norbert's
> "system" has good potential usage, in my opinion, when combined with a 
> more
> traditional and deductive approach (any additional resource that gets a
> student practicing the language is beneficial). So, for example, when
> Norbert teaches students the use of the first declension noun, it would 
> work
> well when combined as an exercise after the first declension noun is 
> taught
> deductively (but I really think more modern Greek grammars like Mounce's
> Koine Greek text with its workbook, while having some short-comings, does
> this same thing quite well already).
> I hope I'm not close minded, but my own learning process in regards to
> Classical and Koine Greek (and I really began with a terrible language
> aptitude!!!, but now I teach the subject) has me convinced that despite 
> all
> the short-comings of a deductive approach to the Greek language (first and
> foremost being that it can be quite difficult if students are not 
> constantly
> encouraged and given the "bigger grammatical picture"), there really is no
> substitute for rolling up your sleeves and memorizing basic Greek grammar
> (inclusive of paradigms) and vocabulary. As students advance and continue 
> to
> learn and use the language, they will slowly become more proficient at
> recognition and be less and less dependant upon paradigms. I think that 
> few
> of us who continue to use Greek can produce faithfully all 52 some odd
> paradigms now, but hopefully one can correctly parse a particular noun,
> verb, or participial form by recognizing its distinct lexical or
> declensionary features (i.e. the basic augment and sigma form for the 
> aorist
> indicative, reduplication and kappa for the perfect indicative etc, etc)
> eight out of ten times without needing to turn immediately to a lexicon. I
> don't think I would be as proficient at doing that if I did not at some
> point during my first or second year of Greek memorize all the paradigms.
> The other thing that the deductive approach offers with the memorizing of
> paradigms etc, it that you learn quite quickly (generally within one year)
> the basics of the entire Greek grammar and how the language more broadly
> works. The inductive approach generally does not offer that as 
> effectively,
> and in fact more often than not I think the process of learning grammar in
> an inductive approach can drag it out so long that the student never 
> really
> develops a broader and connected understanding of how the Greek language
> actually works. So I think an inductive approach combined with our
> traditional deductive approach is best. What do you think??
> I would be grateful for any discussion or insight from the list members
> regarding any issue I have raised
> Kind Regards;
> Kent
> Kent D. Clarke (Ph.D. Bristol)
> Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
> Seal Kap House
> Trinity Western University
> 7600 Glover Road
> Langley, British Columbia
> Canada V3A 6H4
> Ph. (604) 888-7511 ext. 3116
> Fax (604) 888-5336
> E-mail kentc at twu.ca
> ---
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